Open Theism

Invincible chess master?

“It takes a truly wise and creative God to guarantee victory without having to control every detail of history. By contrast, to simply control others so that you always get your way is a sure sign of insecurity and weakness.”

“Though she cannot be certain of how her opponent will move, for her opponent is a free agent, she is certain she can wisely out-maneuver him. … God neither predestines nor foreknows everything as settled but is nevertheless certain of victory because of his divine wisdom. It is the only model in which God wins by virtue of his wisdom, creativity, and problem-solving intelligence. … To simply control or possess information about the future requires no virtuous attributes.” (Greg Boyd, “Divine Foreknowledge”).

But then with the Ninevites, it must therefore have been God’s plan to destroy them. He changed his plan when they repented, and did not destroy them, according to the Open View. But then God frustrated his own plan, by sending Jonah to warn them!

So why did God sent Jonah, if his plan was to destroy the Ninevites, why didn’t he just do it right away? That would have been winning, if that was his purpose. So then God’s plan to destroy them failed, they repented, and thus he had to change his plan, and forgive them! So what has become of our invincible chess master? His overall plan actually failed.

So was God’s overall plan to destroy the Ninevites? I think there are real difficulties if you say yes.

But let us say God’s overall plan was to not destroy them, so then he didn’t change this plan. He is then indeed the invincible chess master, but now we are no longer taking “repent” in a most literal sense! But the Open View insists on saying this means God really changed his mind.

Also, if God’s overall plan was to save Ninevah, then he had a sub-plan to destroy Ninevah. But that cannot be part of a plan to not destroy them. It won’t do to include not-A as a sub-plan in an overall plan to do A. You may consider the possibility of not-A, certainly. But not intend not-A as a subplan on your way to getting to A.

So is God the invincible chess master? Then how can his overall plan fail? We can’t have it both ways…

According to the Open View, what it seems we have are contingencies and preferences, but not one outcome that can be guaranteed, in the example of Jonah. So does the chess master now consider losing as one possibility, and plan even a response to that?

But as an alternative, the Open View could say God had an overall plan with the Ninevites that he didn’t state, that would succeed either way the Ninevites chose. This cannot be refuted, but this also does not seem to be indicated in the text, and of course, seems more an expedient than a conclusion.

But what is guaranteed as far as God’s purpose? What is a purpose we may say God will certainly accomplish? Well, all God’s unconditional promises and prophecies are guaranteed. So here are two of them:

RO 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved…

Now this will certainly happen. But if all Israel being saved requires free-will choices, I don’t see how God can make a plan that will guarantee this. Some may choose to refuse him. Now “Israel” might be taken to mean “those who will believe,” but then we have “all who will believe, will believe,” and that hardly needs to be stated.

REV 21:4 There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Similarly here, if people retain their free-will in heaven, how can there be, for sure, no more pain? For free-will implies a possible choice to sin, and thus that possibility has to be planned for, as a real (however small) possibility, for the angels in heaven, some of them sinned. But sin also implies pain, so then how can God ever guarantee “no more pain”?

And in regard to Jonah again, can we take the approach of saying that God had no particular purpose here? Surely salvation of people is part of God’s purpose, and he wanted them to repent. So he sent Jonah. And sent a storm, and prepared a fish. All indications here are that God is acting with a purpose. And at the end of the book, God says he is concerned, implying that he wanted them to repent.

So how can we say that God wasn’t planning either way? That it was fine with him if they were destroyed, and fine too if they repented?

JNH 4:11 Should I not be concerned about that great city?

With this interpretation, God does win regardless of how they choose. Whatever God does, if he takes whoever will come, then he wins, by this definition. How is “winning” in this way a special demonstration of God’s wisdom and strength, though?

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